Former Bunnies remember Columbus’ Playboy Club, reflect on Hefner’s legacy

Playboy Bunnies at Columbus's Playboy Club, which was open from 1982-1985. CREDIT: Cheryl Hill-Galluci

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The creator of Playboy Enterprises has died. Hugh Hefner is known for creating the topless magazine that helped catapult the careers of several Hollywood actresses, including Marilyn Monroe and Pamela Anderson.

“Hef” died Wednesday night at the age of 91.

His works even hit close to home for many central Ohioans. Back in 1982, the multi-millionaire built the Playboy Club in east Columbus. The club was open until 1985.

Thursday night, many are remembering a man who they say gave them one of their first jobs. Cheryl Hill-Gallucci and Shelley Cox, who were known as “Bunny Candie” and “Bunny Stevie” 35 years ago, worked at Columbus’ Playboy Club back when it opened. More than 30 years later, these best friends expressed their gratitude for the opportunity Hefner gave them.

“The end of an era. The death of an icon. Someone who meant a lot for someone who worked for Playboy or anyone who was a bunny,” said Hill-Gallucci.

Cox said she remembers the energy inside of the club.

“We were the show, and we kind of knew it. The Playboy Club in Columbus had this huge staircase. Open staircase red carpet that we had to walk down from the Bunny Room to the Cabaret Room,” said Cox.

The ladies said it was a showplace known for its lavish parties and concerts until it closed in 1985. The staff were held to a high standard according the pair.

It’s something Mark Hopkins knows very well, too. Hopkins was the entrepreneur’s personal assistant at the Playboy Mansion back in the late 1970s early 80s after moving from Whitehall to California.

“Buy their clothes, make sure their living area is..their maids have gotten in there, everything is spit shined. I traveled with him everywhere he went,” Hopkins told NBC4.

Hopkins says he felt proud to work for a man who wasn’t afraid to stick up for what was right.

“Back in the 60s, way before I was there, he was an advocate–he was a fighter for civil rights, civil liberties. He believed in equality for everyone,” said Hopkins.

As the multi-millionaire’s family prepares to lay him to rest, like Hopkins, Hill-Gallucci said she’ll continue to keep his memory alive.

“He was an icon, and a loving  and generous man. Very honored to have had the privilege to have worn the bunny costume,” said Hill-Gallucci.

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